Sunday, 29 September 2013

Lebanese lamb meatballs with lemon couscous - Recommended Recipe!

Lebanese Lamb Meatballs with Lemon Couscous – serves 4-6

750g minced lamb
3 tsp Baharat seasoning
2 onions
1 tsp finely chopped garlic
4 tbsp olive oil
400g can chopped tomatoes
1 tsp sugar
½ tsp hot chilli powder
½ pint chicken stock
1 tbsp lemon juice
200g couscous
150ml thick natural yoghurt
½ tsp dried mint


  1. Peel and grate 1 onion into a large bowl, add the mince and Baharat. Mix and divide into 12 balls. Cover with cling film and chill.
  2. Finely dice the other onion. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan and gently cook the onion and garlic for 2-3 mins. Add tomatoes, chilli and sugar. Season and simmer gently for 20 mins until thick.
  3. Heat 2 tbsp oil and fry the meatballs, rolling around until browned. Add the tomato sauce and reduce heat to cook through.
  4. Place couscous in a bowl, add oil, hot stock and lemon juice. Stir, cover and leave to stand for 15 mins. Fluff with a fork before serving.
  5. For a mint dressing, mix the natural yoghurt and mint together. Serve chilled.

Source: Bart Spices recipe card

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Caramelised apple cake – Recommended Recipe!

Caramelised Apple Cake – serves 12, takes 10 mins to prepare, 50 mins to cook

4-5 Bramley apples (800g unprepared weight)
Juice of ½ a lemon
275g light brown sugar
5 medium eggs
100g butter, melted
Pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
215g plain flour
¾ tsp baking powder
100g ground almonds
Ice cream or cream, to serve


  1. Preheat the oven to Gas 4, 180C, fan 160C. Grease a 23cm (9”) springform cake tin and line the base and sides with non-stick baking paper.
  2. Peel, halve and core the apples. If you have a melon baller, you can use this to neatly scoop out the cores. Slice the apples into ½ cm thick slices. Sprinkle with the lemon juice and 50g of the sugar and set aside.
  3. Scatter a further 50g of the sugar over the base of the tin. Cover with a layer of apple slices, overlapping them slightly so they sit in concentric circles.
  4. Beat the eggs, melted butter, remaining sugar, salt and vanilla extract together until combined. Sift the flour and baking powder over the mixture, followed by the ground almonds. Add the remaining apple slices, including any liquid, and fold together quickly. Pour into the tin and bake for 50 mins, until the cake has risen and is golden brown. (At around 30 mins into the baking time, check the cake. If the top is golden brown by that point, cover with a layer of foil for the remainder of the baking time.)
  5. Carefully turn out onto a serving plate so that the base is uppermost. Serve warm with ice cream or cream.

Per serving: 315 kcal, 28g sugar, 15g fat, 5.5g saturated fat, 0.4g salt.

Source: Tesco instore recipe card.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Things that go bump in the night...

At the moment, my 6 year old son is going through a 'scared of the dark and anything else that he feels like being scared of' phase! He's always been close to me emotionally, but over the last couple of weeks he's got to the stage where if we're in the same room and I leave the room (without him noticing I've gone), he has a mini-panic because he can't find me!

There's also a growing list of things he's scared of, including any empty room, school, the dark and the back door! Bed time is becoming a bit of a challenge too. Usually, a quick bed time story is all it takes to send him off to sleep, but lately he just won't settle! We've ended up having a story, then leaving the light on for him when I've left the room. But I know that he then gets back out of bed and plays with his Lego because when I go to bed, I always peep in his room to see that he's asleep and there will be a Lego creation on the floor! He will be in bed asleep though!

On occassion though, he just won't stay in his own room. We've tried night lights, music, various teddy bears and all sorts. Today an email from The Good Toy Guide dropped into my inbox, covering how to deal with nightmares. He doesn't tend to wake during the night having a nightmare or bad dreams, but the recommendations make sense for any child who is scared of 'something'!


A nightmare is a bad dream that both children and adults experience. It can produce feelings in a person that they cannot control and often makes a person feel angry, shameful, scared, in fear, anxious, or upset. Remember nightmares are not real and can't harm anyone- they are figments of a person's  imagination. Nightmares occur during Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep when a person is at their deepest point of sleep. Nightmares are triggered by psychological stress, anxiety, when witnessed an accidents/natural disasters/scary TV programme.

All children are different and prevention methods may not work for all children. You need to find the best way that suits you and your child with techniques that are favourable to you and your child.

Reassure your child- providing comfort for your child and tell them that there is noting to worry about. A kiss and cuddle may do this.
• Listen and discuss- Listen to your child’s worries and concerns and discuss how they are feeling and why. This will give you an indication of the cause of the light terrors and could enlighten you on a solution.
Have fun in the dark- Get a torch and have a treasure hunt in the dark or play tag in the dark. By a child having fun in the dark they will associated the dark with fun and will become less scared.
• Provide security for your child- Allow your child to sleep with something that provides them with comfort, such as a soft toy or blanket.
Get into a healthy sleep routine- Try and devise a bed routine together and adhere to this as much as possible and hopefully you will see a positive difference.
• Let there be light - Some children feel happier with a nightlight on. This is fine and maybe the comfort your child needs. Just ensure that the nightlight does not prevent the child from falling asleep, make it as dim as possible.
• Keep the door open- Keep the child’s door slightly open to prevent them from feeling isolated.They may fall asleep easier with background noise and hearing their parents voices. Also if a child is experiencing a nightmare and becomes distressed then parents have more of a chance of hearing them with the door open.
• No scary TV- Ensure that your child is not watching or witnessing anything scary before bed that could provoke a nightmare.
• Encourage positive thoughts-- Read a story and let them imagine the rest of it, encourages a positive dream.
• Visit a doctor – if nightmares persist then visit a doctor as there may be an underlying health issue.
The Good Toy Guide, September 2013.

This has given me some further ideas to help him calm his fears. He can't describe to me what he is scared of so instead of understanding the cause of the fear, I'm going to try and help him deal with the fear, whatever it may be! I'm sure in time, he will be able to explain what he is scared of.... but for the time being, we'll work on tackling the fear! 

The Good Toy Guide recommend these friendly worry-eater dolls and so we might give these a try too! Simply zip the 'worry' into the mouth and it will disappear, leaving you with nothing to worry about! Do these work for adults too!?!?

Wish me luck!

Sunday, 22 September 2013

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Saturday, 21 September 2013

Fish pie - Recommended Recipe!

Fish Pie - serves 6, takes 25 mins to prepare and 35 mins to cook.

750g floury potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
pinch of salt
2 egg yolks
60g butter
200ml milk
1 tbsp plain flour
175ml fish stock
200ml creme fraiche
1 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
zest of 1/2 a lemon
750g fish pie mix (we used a mix of prawns, haddock and smoked cod)

  1. Place the potatoes in a saucepan and cover with water. Add a large pinch of salt and bring to the boil. Gently simmer, partially covered with a lid, for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are completely tender. Drain thoroughly and return the potatoes to the pan over a low heat for a couple of minutes to steam off any remaining water. Use a potato ricer or masher to mash the potatoes.
  2. Beat in the egg yolks, 25g of the butter and 50ml of the milk and season to taste with freshly fround black pepper and salt.
  3. Preheat the oven to Gas 4/180C. Place the remaining butter in a small saucepan with the remaining milk, the flour and the fish stock and gently bring to the boil, whisking constantly. Keep whisking as the mixture boils and thickens to form a smooth sauce. Simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the creme fraiche, tarragon and lemon zest and season with plenty of pepper and just a little salt.
  4. Distribute the fish mix over the base of a medium, ovenproof dish. Pour the sauce evenly over the fish and spread the mash over the top, working from the outside in. Use a fork to rake over the top, creating a rough surface. Bake for 30-35 mins until golden on top and bubbling beneath.
Each serving contains: 495 kcals, 3g sugar, 30g fat, 17g saturated fat, 0.6g salt.

Source: Tesco instore recipe card

Autumn Days!

 While browsing a parenting forum earlier on, I came across a post about this song - Autumn Days.

Autumn days, when the grass is jewelled
And the silk in a chestnut shell
Jet planes meeting in the air to be refuelled
All these things I love so well
So I mustn't forget
No, I mustn't forget
To say a great big thank you
No, I mustn't forget.

Clouds that look like familiar faces
And winter's moon with frosted rings
Smell of bacon as I fasten up my laces
And the song the milkman sings.
So I mustn't forget
No, I mustn't forget
To say a great big thank you
No, I mustn't forget.

Whipped-up spray that is rainbow-scattered
And a swallow curving in the sky
Shoes so comfy though they're worn out and they're battered
And the taste of apple pie.
So I mustn't forget
No, I mustn't forget
To say a great big thank you
No, I mustn't forget.

Scent of gardens when the rain's been falling
And a minnow darting down a stream
Picked-up engine that's been stuttering and stalling
And a win for my home team.
So I mustn't forget
No, I mustn't forget
To say a great big thank you
No, I mustn't forget.

I was immediately whizzed back over 20 years to my primary school days where we used to sing this song in assembly. It was one of my favourtie songs and I wonder if it is still sung today? My children attend a Welsh-medium school, so they don't sing English songs in 'gwasanaeth'!

The words really do conjure up the Autumn time of year - my favourite season! It's a lovely song - does anyone else remember it?!

Here's the tune for those with a forgetful memory (link)!

Creamy velvet strawberry milkshake - Recommended Recipe!

Creamy Velvet Strawberry Milkshake - makes 4 small milkshakes, takes 10 minutes to make

 200ml cold milk, straight from the fridge
1 tsp vanilla extract
200g strawberries, hulled (or raspberries or blueberries)
2 scoops vanilla flavoured ice cream, plus 4 little scoops to serve


  1. Put the milk, vanilla extract and berries into a blender and whizz until smooth.
  2. Add the ice cream and quickly whizz up again. Divide the mixture between 4 glasses, and top each with a small scoop of ice cream. Enjoy straight away.

Per serving: 155 kcal, 5.9g fat, 3.4g saturated fat, 16.7g sugars, 0.1g salt

Source: the Co-operative instore magazine